So you’ve provided your awesome service or someone has placed an order for your groundbreaking product and now you just want to get paid. You might just pull together a quick word document and send it on via email. But have you included all the bits and pieces that protect you and your customer?
My first full-time job was in the Credit Control department of a large wholesaler based in the UK. I was shocked when I first saw the amount of text and information on the sales invoices being sent out. That was until I heard the Credit Controllers referring to some of the information I had thought was unnecessary as part of their collection calls.
Over the years since I have received, looked at, processed, and disputed thousands of invoices and I see the same omissions again and again. As a result I have heard the same stories from all types of businesses having problems collecting payment.
I’ve pulled together a list of items which I feel should be included on all sales invoices and the accompanying documents.
- The full name of your business.
- Your business registration number and registered address. It’s a good idea to include the country too.
- Your contact email address and phone number in case there are any queries.
- Your VAT Registration Number (if you have one).
- You may also want to include your tax registration number.
- A sequential reference number (i.e. an invoice number).
- The date the invoice is created.
- The Purchase Order Number (if your Customer has provided one).
- The Contact Name, Business Name, and Billing Address of the person receiving the invoice. Also include the email address if the invoice is being sent via email.
- Details of the services and / or products provided. Include as much information as possible in this section, including batch or serial numbers for products supplied.
- The charge for the service or product. If possible break this figure down into multiples of a unit price.
A VAT breakdown (i.e. the amount excluding VAT (Net), the amount of VAT & the rate charged, and the gross amount).
- The total amount due.
- The various payment methods you accept, e.g. cheque, credit card, bank transfer, PayPal, etc.
- Your payment terms – i.e. the date by which you expect to receive the payment. Also include details of any late payment penalties you intend to charge.
- The deadline to report any problems or issues with a product.
- Details of how and when returns will be accepted.
- Terms of Sale (e.g. if ownership of a product only transfers once payment in full received). You may need help from a solicitor to draft these.
- If you are a limited company, include details of directors and the country in which the company is registered.
It may seem a bit overwhelming, but each item on the list is either a legal requirement for Accounting purposes, or covers the rights of you and your Customer.
Nearly all Accounting Software packages include template sales invoices and on the whole most of the items listed above are included as standard. If you’re using software to generate your Sales Invoices, just check to make sure you’ve everything covered. If not, with a few small adjustments to the template you’ll be good to go. If you can’t change the template, consider attaching a document with each invoice or embed a link to a webpage and specify the additional information on these pages.
You would think that pulling together a sales invoice so that you can get paid would be straightforward … but when you start thinking about all the details it can be overwhelming.
To help you, I’ve a set of FREE Templates you can use. Click HERE, enter your details, and you’ll receive the files in a matter of minutes direct to your inbox.
Founder, Exploring Solutions
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